As a parent I'm always hoping to teach thoughtful kindness in my children. There are always stories of bullies and "mean girls" in schools and let me tell you, it can start as early as 1st grade. I value kindness in my children just as much, or more, than any other quality they could possess.
To me, teaching kindness in kids begins with kind adults. Kids imitate what they see/hear. If we don't show them how to be kind, how else will they learn?
Today, on Random Acts of Kindness Day I'm going to share 5 tips to encourage kindness in kids.
Talk About Feelings
Children can have a hard time putting themselves in someone else's shoes. Talking about feelings helps. The good, the bad, and the ugly, put it all out there. If someone is mean to them, help them express their feelings. Point out how the actions of others made them feel. Make sure to point out how their actions make other people feel too. Ask questions like "How does that make you feel?" "Does she look lonely?" "What do you think he is feeling right now?"
Let your children see you being kind: to them, to your spouse, to your friends, to strangers. If someone has a new baby and you're taking them a dinner, talk to your children and let them know "Katie has a new baby; new babies are hard work so we're taking her dinner so she won't have to cook tonight. We're being helpful because Katie is our friend." Next thing you know they will be suggesting kind things they want to do like taking popsicles to the neighbors on a hot day.
Do Good Together
Get your kid involved in doing kind things as a family. Send cards to friends who live far away and let them know you are thinking of them, clean out the pantry together and take it to the local food bank, bake cookies for a neighbor. If you get kids involved in the kindness they will see how it affects others and want to do more. Putting change in gum ball machines is a fun one for kids to participate in!
Say Thank You
I try to say thank you to my husband and kids often but sometimes it's easy to forget to thank them for the little things. Be sure to tell your kids thank you when they deserve it, especially if they do something without being told (or told more than once!). "Thank you for putting your shoes on this morning as soon as you were finished with your breakfast". And make sure they hear you thank your spouse or other people too. Do it with a smile for extra kindness!
Always Praise Kindness
Praise kindness as much as you can. Children thrive on praise and sometimes just that simple recognition of a kind action can go a long way. Point out even the smallest kind action. "I saw you playing with the new girl on the playground this morning. That was kind of you because sometimes it can be scary to move to a new school where you don't know anyone. Now you have a new person to be friends with and I bet you made her feel welcome!"
Remember that all children are going to have unkind moments. They just need gentle reminders as they grow and learn and deal with new experiences and feelings. Don't get me wrong, my kids aren't perfect angels either. They are works in progress but I'm pretty proud of their kind hearts!
So, go spread kindness everyday and especially today on Random Acts of Kindness Day. Be kind to one another.
The Shopping Mama was not compensated for this post.